Romans chapter 8 is all about salvation, and it’s one of the most stunning passages in the Bible that deals with salvation. I can only stand in awe of how God inspired and somehow squeezed such rich doctrine into only 39 verses. As we come to God’s Word this morning, our focus will be verses 31-39. However, to understand the final few verses, we must understand what came before. We receive a hint to this: since Paul began v.31 with this question “What then shall we say in response to these things,” he expected every person in the church of Rome to know what has been spoken about so far. And so, we have to understand what Romans 8 is all about. It neatly divides into three sections.
The first section of Romans 8 is contained in verses 1 through 17, this is where Paul speaks about the Holy Spirit’s work in saving us. In brief terms this is what we are told: that the moment we were saved the Holy Spirit freed us from the laws of sin and death, also through Him we can put our own sinful deeds and desires to death. We’re also is given some of His other names to help us understand what He does. He is the Spirit of Christ, this means He comes from Jesus. He is also the Spirit of Adoption, who proves to believers that we’re the children of God and we’ll inherit all things in eternity with Jesus Christ.
Section 2 is found in verses 18-30, and though it firmly latches onto the previously mentioned doctrine, it mainly speaks about our destiny as believers. We’re told a day will come when the glory of Jesus will be revealed in us. In the meantime, we eagerly wait for Him in this world while enduring suffering. In addition to this, God’s whole creation waits like a woman in labour pains for the day we’ll be glorified with Christ. And in the final bit of vv.18-30, we’re told that God chose each person who would belong to him and who would be glorified with Christ. These doctrines are really beautiful and powerful. However, we still find ourselves in a world that offers very little security and lots of uncertainty. That’s why Paul asks, “What then shall we say in response to these things?” And after this he asks more questions in verses 31-39 for us to understand our steadfast salvation which comes from a steadfast Lord, who is steadfast in His love.
A Steadfast Lord (vv.31-34)
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.
From the get-go Paul asks three compelling questions. I’d like for you to imagine they’re all asked in a courtroom-like setting. Because Paul’s intention is to disprove things which seem to threaten the security of a true believer’s salvation. You’ll see how each question assures the Christian that God has steadfastly saved them through the Death and Resurrection of Christ.
Question number one, “If God is for us who can be against us?” Here we receive a hint telling us God (the judge in the courtroom) has shown favour to us. The proof is that God gave His only Son up to save us. Part two of that proof is another question, Paul asks “why will he not give us all things?” God has already given us the very best thing He could, the Lord Jesus Christ. If He provided our greatest need, justification through Jesus, why wouldn’t He then provide our every other need or make us co-inheritors of universe together with Jesus. God can meet all our needs, they can be spiritual, physical, mental, emotional or anything else. God has given us the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of Adoption, who testifies that we are the sons and daughters of the living God. God is not like a bad father who refuses to provide for his children, nor is he like a good father would who’d do his best to provide. God is a perfect Holy Father who will meet all our needs until we are with him in glory one day.
The second question is “Who can bring a charge against us?” The answer to this is short, sweet and powerful “It is God who justifies,” literally Paul states God is the one who declares people righteous. Just like in a courtroom God is the judge, he declares that we’re not guilty because of Jesus and no one and nothing external can claim our salvation is fake. Jesus said a person’s fruit may prove that they weren’t saved in the first place, however, nothing can prove that salvation is anything but steadfast. God is invested in our salvation; He made a covenant with us by giving the life of His only Son to justify us. He has never and will never go back on His Word. So for his own name’s sake, He won’t condemn us. If he did his salvation would be a failure and God would be an unrighteous judge.
Jesus tells a parable about an unrighteous judge in Luke 18 who brings justice for a widow after she nags him to help her. He used this story to make the point that this is not what God is like, instead He’s perfect and righteous, never delaying justice for us, His chosen people. For all true followers of Christ, the justice of God for us is to make us righteous because He gave Jesus who died in our place and paid for our sin.
Now comes question three: “Who is it that condemns us?” The only possible answer is “No one,” because if God will never call us guilty, then honestly no one can make us guilty. What Paul said so far is already enough, yet he drives the point home saying that not only will God never change His mind, but Jesus is also praying for us. Romans 8:26 says that the Holy Spirit is also praying for us with deep groaning. So, we find ourselves perfectly represented before God the Father by the two other persons of the Triune God. So Jesus and the Spirit are praying for us, but what are they praying for? I’d like to think Jesus in prays for us similarly to how he prayed for Peter in Luke 22:31-32. He prayed for Peter’s faith not to fall apart, rather it should be kept strong in order to strengthen the faith of the other disciples. Likewise, the Spirit prays when we’re weak and don’t know what to pray for. Isn’t it encouraging to know that God wants our faith to be strengthened and to last so that we can help grow others in the faith? And by the prayers of Christ and the Spirit, He will lovingly provide all we need for this to happen.
A Steadfast Love
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The second half of this section is marked by v.35. From this point on everything is about Jesus and God the Father’s steadfast love. Paul carries on asking some questions to assure us that our salvation is steadfast. Question four is “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” And it’s quickly followed up by question five: “Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” These questions must be answered together, and Paul does this in an interesting way. He quotes from Psalm 44:22 which says: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” At the end of the Psalm, God’s people cry out for His steadfast love, this is the exact same love of Christ that we cannot be separated from.
Circumstances, opposition and suffering can never change or remove Jesus’ love for us. Instead, the Bible clearly tells us to expect trials and suffering. Being a Christian means people could hate us, constantly make trouble for us, threaten our jobs or even kill us. In fact, we’re given reasons to be glad for suffering. Romans 8:17-18 says that part of salvation is sharing in Christ’s sufferings, so that we’ll share in His glory which will be revealed in us one day.
In response to what suffering Christians go through, God gets Paul to be creative by saying we’re “more than conquerors through him who loved us” or literally super-conquerors, through Jesus who loved us. Like what was mentioned in our call to worship, Jesus overcame the world, so we become super-conquerors like He is. God then convinced Paul that “neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This conclusion has missed nothing in creation and is absolutely rock solid, nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ. Salvation is so solid that only a member of the Trinity can separate us from the love of Christ. However, the Trinity will never do so, because they’re all in agreement that they will never reverse the believer’s salvation. Remember, our God is a steadfast God who is steadfast in His love for us and so our salvation is steadfast.
It’s important that we remember all these things. That our God is steadfast, and His love is steadfast. Life is overloaded with uncertainty. Planning and preparing are wonderful things to do, even so we can be taken by surprise. God hasn’t given us complete knowledge of the future, but He has given us a completely secure salvation that leads to a completely secure glory in Christ. And should anyone trust in His Son, He will make them irreversibly righteous. If you’ve already believed in His Son, then know your justification cannot be taken away by anyone or anything. Keep believing in Jesus and know that nothing in all creation can separate us from His love. Through His power and love we are super-conquerors, victorious over suffering, death, life, all of creation and all circumstances. Global pandemics and people can never change this steadfast salvation. Let’s read God’s word, pray for each other, grow in faith and assurance of faith. May God’s steadfastness become part of us all, both in our love and our actions toward one another.